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    Marie Aitken.

Wimmera Health Care Group board seeks merger input

Wimmera Health Care Group’s board Marie Aitken has provided further insight into why the service is exploring a greater partnership with Ballarat Health Services.
Mrs Aitken has provided some of the key statistics driving the three-month probe, which also includes examining of a voluntary merger, in a letter to the editor.
Here is here letter –

SIR, – In relation to the editorial ‘Hard think needed on health services’ in The Weekly Advertiser on November 18, 2020.  
Thank you for your coverage of the recent decision by Wimmera Health Care Group and Ballarat Health Services to explore partnership options – including a possible voluntary amalgamation – to enhance services and create better health outcomes for local people across the region.
The key focus of this initiative is about strengthening the partnerships between our health services to provide safe and accessible care closer to home.
Many people in our local community are having to travel great distances to get the health care they need – and we would like to provide this care locally.

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The statistics tell us –
* Horsham residents travel outside of the region for approximately 2200 episodes of care each year, about six a day. This represents around one quarter of all public hospital admissions for Horsham residents.
* The proportion of Horsham residents’ hospital care that is provided outside the region has increased in recent years - 450 more episodes of care now occur outside the region than five years ago.
* For the wider Wimmera region, almost 4000 episodes of care happen outside the region each year  – more than 10 per day.
* The proportion of Wimmera region residents’ hospital care provided outside the region has also increased in recent years. Almost 600 more episodes of care occur outside the region than five years ago.

* If Wimmera residents could have the same proportion of their hospital care delivered within the region as happens in other nearby regions, 1300 fewer patients would have to travel to get the healthcare they need – four per day.
Source: Victorian Admitted Episodes Dataset 2018-19.

The health services are working together to try to address these issues and bring services closer to home.
I reassure the community that any partnership options being explored would focus on enhancing and expanding services.
Increasing local access to health care for the people of the Wimmera is a key driver of the partnership project.
To do this will require some big thinking, as what we have done so far has been good, but not enough to prevent the loss of clinical services from our community that we have seen over the past five years.
This is where we really want to hear from local people. What are your priorities for healthcare? What areas would you like to see improved?
If you are a team member of Wimmera Health Care Group, what are the career and training opportunities that you would see from a stronger partnership with Ballarat?
Community input into this project is vital to ensure that we develop our health service to meet the broadest possible needs.

A range of consultation activities are available and we encourage you to have your say. People can –
* Fill in a survey online at This is open until December 11.
* Make a submission by writing to Partnership Proposal, Wimmera Health Care Group - 83 Baillie Street, Horsham VIC 3400 or email:
* Attend a consultation session in January and February 2021. To register interest to attend, please email:
* Fill in a feedback form or find out more information via websites Wimmera Health Care Group – or Ballarat Health Services –
* Phone Wimmera Health Care Group on 5381 9293

Please tell us what is important to you to enhance services and improve health outcomes for people in the Wimmera.

Alongside the team and community consultation, a comprehensive assessment is being undertaken in relation to workforce, financial, service delivery and governance impacts of any partnership.
Each board will then be informed to make a decision in relation to their individual health service.


The entire November 25, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 25, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!